These occupational profiles are part of a series of PRB products about the science and engineering workforce in the United States, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Data for these occupational profiles are based on PRB's analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau's 2007 American Community Survey.

(December 2008) PRB has created a series of occupational profiles that highlight the uneven participation of women and minorities in the science and engineering labor force. The data, from the Census Bureau's 2007 American Community Survey (ACS), show variations in earnings, education, and the participation of minorities, women, and foreign-born workers in the high-tech economy. The ACS provides information about 47 separate science and engineering occupations, ranging from actuaries to urban planners.

To access each of the 47 individual profiles (one for each profession), click on the name:

Acturaries   Aerospace Engineers   Agricultural and Food Scientists   Agricultural and Food Science Technicians   Architects   Astronomers and Physicists   Atmospheric and Space Scientists   Biological Technicians   Biomedical and Agricultural Engineers   Biological Scientists   Chemical Engineers   Chemical Technicians   Chemists and Materials Scientists   Civil Engineers   Computer Hardware Engineers   Computer Scientists and Systems Analysts   Computer Software Engineers   Computer Support Specialists   Computer Programmers   Conservation Scientists and Foresters   Database Administrators   Drafters   Economists   Electrical and Electronic Engineers   Engineering Technicians   Environmental Engineers   Environmental Scientists and Geoscientists   Geological and Petroleum Technicians   Industrial Engineers   Life, Physical, and Social Science Technicians   Marine Engineers and Naval Architects   Market and Survey Researchers   Materials Engineers   Mathematicians and Statisticians   Mechanical Engineers   Medical Scientists   Misc. Engineers incl. Nuclear Engineers   Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts   Network and Computer Systems Administrators   Operations Research Analysts   Petroleum, Mining, and Geological Engineers   Physical Scientists, All Other   Psychologists   Social Scientists   Surveyors, Cartographers, and Photogrammetrists   Surveying and Mapping Technicians   Urban and Regional Planners

Here are some of the key findings from PRB's analysis of the data:

  • Between 2005 and 2007, the number of people in the science and engineering labor force increased from 7.4 million to 7.6 million. In 2007, men accounted for 74 percent of the S&E labor force. There were only a handful of S&E occupations—psychology, market and survey research, biological sciences, and mathematics—where women made up 50 percent or more of the labor force. This occupational divide is important because it is associated with a gender gap in earnings. In 2007, median earnings in S&E occupations with higher concentrations of women were $13,000 less than earnings in S&E occupations dominated by men.1
  • In 2007, over 90 percent of electrical, geological, mechanical, and naval engineers were men.
  • In 2007, occupations with some of the highest median earnings included petroleum, mining, and geological engineers ($92,000), actuaries ($86,000), and economists ($86,000). Life, physical, and social science technicians—which include graduate research assistants—had the lowest earnings, at $28,000. Median annual earnings in the total S&E labor force were $61,000.
  • Asians were most highly concentrated in the physical sciences, medical research, and computer software and hardware engineering. Asians account for only 5 percent of the total labor force but make up more than a fourth of people in each of these occupations. The majority of Asian Americans working in these occupations were born outside of the United States.
  • African Americans and Latinos in the S&E labor force were most likely to be working as technicians, generally for lower pay. For example, median earnings for chemical technicians, who had the highest proportion of African Americans among S&E occupations, were $43,000 in 2007. Chemists, who are mostly white or Asian, had median earnings of $61,000 during the same year.
  • Psychologists had among the highest proportions of doctoral degrees—43 percent. However, median earnings among psychologists were relatively low—$10,000 below the median earnings in the total science and engineering labor force. This disparity reflects the higher concentrations of women in psychology and the lower wages of women relative to men with similar or lower levels of education.2

Mark Mather is associate vice president of Domestic Programs at the Population Reference Bureau. 


References

  1. Male-dominated occupations are classified as those in which men account for at least 60 percent of the labor force.
  2. For more information, see Marlene A. Lee and Mark Mather, "U.S. Labor Force Trends," Population Bulletin 63, no. 2 (2008): 12-13.